With “Book Lover’s Day” coming up on August 9th, I thought I’d devote some thoughts to the joy of reading. So grab your bowl and curl up in your favorite chair for an alphabet story. My love for reading began when I discovered the library. One of my earliest memories was sitting in the kid’s section of our small public library. It was overseen by a stern older woman who would not allow any talk above a whisper. I remember it as a quiet, and cool escape from the summer heat. It was also an escape from the teasing I received from my brothers, as I was the only girl sandwiched between two older brothers and a younger one. Even if one of them came along with me, the librarian was my champion, hushing any comments sent my way.
It was here that I discovered another escape that took me into realms of fantasy. Books that began with ‘Once upon a time in a far-a-way land’ grabbed my attention and transported me to a world of beautiful heroines who always got rescued by the brave and handsome hero.
I soon graduated from fairy-tales and got hooked on crime solver, “Nancy Drew”. I went along with her (through the complete series) as she ventured into territories that both scared and delighted me. I was a trembling, but silent passenger as she drove her little car with the rumble seat. It was a thrilling ride that soon ended soon after the discovery of the classics.
Charles Dickens’ stories about people leading hardscrabble lives made me appreciate my life immeasurably. I enjoyed the dark tales of Edgar Allen Poe that were so suspenseful I could stay immersed for hours! When I’d come up for a breath of air, I was ready for something lighter. “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (Betty Smith) and”The Secret Garden”(Frances Hodgson Burnett) provided that relief. I loved novels by Willa Cather, especially”My Antonia”.
In highschool, assigned reading was John Steinbeck’s the “Grapes of Wrath” which was read with much interest since I was born in Oklahoma. I learned about life on “Cannery Row” and read the thought-provoking story “Of Mice and Men”. ”
“The Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, “Sister Carrie” by Theodore Dreiser, and the novels of Edna Ferber were tops on my list of books. My all-time favorite has to be “to Kill a Mockingbird” (Harper Lee). I love the relationship of the father with his children. It’s theme of honesty and devotion to truth is one that will always hold a place in my memory.
Another writer that can hold my attention for hours is Barbara Kingsolver. She had me from the first page of “The Bean Tree”. Titles to grab your attention are “Pigs in Heaven” and “Poisonwood Bible”
Teaching elementary grades gave me a chance to renew my interest in children’s literature. Of course I read aloud to my class many stories that began with “Once upon a time”. “Charlotte’s Web” ( E.B. White) was loved by the children. “The Velveteen Rabbit” (Marjorie Williams) was a favorite.
Maintaining an interest for children’s literature, I recently I read the “Invention of Hugo Cabret” and enjoyed it so much I went on to read his second work “Wonderstruck”. The are wonderful inventive books to be enjoyed by young and old alike.
Now that my granddaughter is beginning to read the “Nancy Drew” series, I’m looking forward to sharing the rumble seat with her.
Do you have a favorite childhood book or memory of the library?